Narrative based Medicine – What it is, what it is good for, and how to put it into practice

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2009.0060

german translation / full article

Peter F. Matthiessen, Stefan Wilm, Vera Kalitzkus

Keywords: narrative medicine physician-patient relations illness experience biography personal narratives

Abstract: Narratives have always been a vital part of medicine. With the rise of „modern” medicine narratives have been more and more neglected in favour of „facts and findings” regarded as more objective and scientific. Yet, in the recent years there is a renaissance of narratives – especially patient narratives and the unfolding story between doctors and patients. Eventually this led to the formation of so called Narrative based Medicine (NbM). The term was coined specifically in distinction to Evidence based Medicine (EbM), with NbM being propagated to counteract the shortcomings of EbM. But what does narrative medicine actually contain? Its’ meaning spans from a specific therapeutic tool, a special form of doctor-patient-communication to a qualitative research tool. What are the potentials of NbM and its implications for theory, research, as well as for general practice? Where are the limitations of a narrative approach in general practice?

(State: 08.06.2011)

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